How to save money – and the planet – every time you purchase fabric by the metre

Every small business wants to save money and be more sustainable. Does your business involve buying material and printing on it? If so, you need to know how to buy the best quality fabric by the metre you can find. 

To help you, we’ve put together a go-to guide on how to select the best materials for your business. We explain what you need to look out for when choosing and buying fabric. We also show you how you can be more sustainable in your choices.

Points to consider when selecting fabrics

Choosing fabric by the metre online involves a number of different points. Here are the most important ones to consider:

The quality of the fabric

First point to consider is the fabric’s characteristics – and the material’s quality is the most important point of all. So think about how long-wearing the fabric is and the fabric’s composition. Say you're considering buying 1 metre of 100% cotton fabric or more. You’ll be looking for smooth, breathable material. If you’re looking at a cotton/polyester blend (polycotton is one), the fabric will have its own particular qualities. That doesn’t mean that the cotton fabric is better than cotton/polyester blend; it just means that each is different.

But there are certain signs you can look out for to ensure the fabric is of a high quality. These include:

·      Colour: Of course, at maake we print designs and patterns in colour for you. On our website, we tell you how the colours will print on each base fabric we offer as some print stronger than others.

·      The weave: Check the fabric carefully to find out whether it’s tightly or loosely woven. Quality materials usually have a balanced mix of woven fibres with no gaps. Check out the fabric and the information provided, which includes its strength, thread count and composition.

·      The finish: The texture of your fabric should be as described in the information. Look out for uneven weaves, fraying, stretch and creasing. This will give you an idea of the qualities of the fabric you plan to use.

·      Cost: When you're looking at fabric of exceptional quality fabric, the range is unlikely to be cheap. If the fabric is inexpensive, it is less likely to be of a high quality or finish.

 At maake, we aim to offer a range of fabrics for all budgets. Whilst some fabrics might be cheaper, we never compromise on their quality. We care about the final effect of the fabric itself. So plainer, more simple fabrics will tend to be less expensive. By the same token, more complicated weaves and knits from more luxurious or sustainable yarns tend to be dearer.

·      The source: Make sure that your fabric comes from a reliable, sustainable source. If possible, buy local. Choose a manufacturer with an excellent reputation for quality fabric. Make sure you choose someone experienced who offers top quality products.

·      The weight: Most manufacturers will indicate the weight of the fabric in gsm ( grams per square meter). This usually depends on the type of fibre that makes up the fabric as well as the weave. Check out whether the fabric is lightweight, medium weight or heavyweight and consider which fabric will best suit your product. As a guide, a lightweight scarf tends to be around 70-90 gsm, a shirting/quilting weight cotton between 125-150 gsm and a heavy canvas or denim between 230-350 gsm.

Remember: a heavyweight fabric doesn’t always mean that the fabric is of high quality. The quality depends on the fabric’s suitability for the product you’re making. A finely woven fabric is often harder to get right than a course, heavy weight fabric.

·      The sustainability: Don’t only look at whether the fabric is manufactured locally. Make sure that the manufacturer used sustainable methods to manufacture the fabric and/or print on it. That involves using no harmful chemicals in the manufacture and dying process. It also involves doing everything possible to use less energy and water.

The type of fabric

Another important point to consider is the type of fabric you want. Choose either natural, synthetic or a mix of the two. 

Natural fabrics are those made out of 100% natural fibres, such as cotton, linen, silk, denim and leather. Synthetic materials include polyester and rPET (recycled polyester), jersey fabric, nylon, rayon, viscose, pvc and acrylic. 

When it comes to quality, remember: natural fabrics tend to be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. Fabrics that are a mix of both natural and synthetic are priced accordingly, too.

At maake we offer our customers a special fabric sample service. You can order a fabric sample book which gives you an insight into our wide selection of fabric options, including natural, synthetic and a mix of both.

How does the fabric print?

·      Once the fabric has a pattern or design printed on, check to see if the colours fade or stay vibrant. This is an important point to consider when choosing fabric by the metre. 

Our informative fabric sample book not only gives you an idea of the fabrics that we offer; it also features a wide range of fabrics and designs, so that you can view the fabrics and get an idea of how well the design prints on particular fabrics. 

This is so important, so add this to your basket. You need to be able to decide which colours print best on each fabric. 

·     Consider how different colours print on the fabric you've chosen. With a sample book, you can look at the fabric in your hand, not on the computer screen.  You can see how it looks in natural and artificial light. This is very important when choosing new fabric designs and colours.

When ordering

If you shop for fabric per metre online, remember the following. Make sure the fabric is the right choice before you place your order in the shopping cart. maake offers you the chance to order a printed sample (20 x 20 cm) with your design first. Once you see the printed sample, you can order full meters.

Very importantly, maake charge by the meter not design, so you can order 20 designs x 1m and achieve the 20m discounted rate. This allows you to be flexible and order only the amount of design your business needs.

·      Take a look at how designs and patterns print on a particular fabric. Choose designs that will line up when you’re sewing your product together. You don't want the finished item to look distorted or uneven.

·      Wash a fabric sample to see if it shrinks and creases, and how the colours react on the fabric after washing.

Why you should shop for fabrics by the meter

Most fabric is sold per metre. It doesn't matter whether it’s for a dressmaking project or for a manufacturer to create different products out of. However, most textile manufacturers don’t offer a viable minimum amount that you can buy. 

This is a pity. If you want your business to save money and be sustainable, you need to buy only what you need. And then and then have your design or pattern printed on it. This is a great way to save on fabric by the meter and save the planet too.

maake believes in sustainable innovation and our focus is on minimising fabric and ink waste. We offer high quality fabrics for you to print designs on – and we print only what you order. This way, we ensure that none of the fabric in our factory is wasted, or lands up sitting on shelves. 

Unfortunately, no matter how careful a printer is, mistakes do happen. Sometimes the amounts printed are incorrect. Or perhaps the material doesn’t pass quality control (we’re proud to admit that this happens very rarely). But when it does, and printed material is returned to us, we don’t resell or restock the fabric. 

We recycle it by donating it to charity, universities and schools. Take a look at our page on social responsibility, which details our commitment to sustainable innovation.

Why printing on demand is the sustainable choice

Print just the right amount of fabric with us (anything from 1 metres upwards to 1000m+). This way, you’re saving money, water, energy and waste. This is how your business, whether it’s large or small, can be more sustainable.

All the materials we use are ethically source and bought from trusted mills in the UK wherever possible. This is to reduce our carbon footprint and assist the local economy. The mills that we work with are all REACH accredited and many also hold SEDEX accreditation

When we print designs and patterns on these fabrics, we use sustainable printing methods. These require 95% less energy than traditional fabric printing. The printing inks we use are Oeko-Tex 100 certificated and meet GOTS 6.0 requirements ( for cotton inks). They are also safe for kids (EN71-3 certified).

The printing processes we use for all fabrics use 95% less energy than traditional textile printing. Maake also uses only 100% renewable energy resources and very little water. When we print cotton and linen, we use no water at all. We also use less than a thimbleful of ink waste per 100m printed. 

Click here to upload your own design and start printing

"Being able to work with a business that you can print on demand made a massive difference in my business and how I operate. It gave me a lot more flexibility"

Sian Thomas, Sian Elin